Being on the seaside means swing bowlers will get some assistance in early spell.india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 19:08 IST
Mumbai, the cricket capital of India, has seen Test matches played at three different grounds. The Bombay Gymkhana ground hosted the first ever Test in India, in 1933-34 against England. After WW-II, the Cricket Club of India's Brabourne Stadium was used for 17 Tests. However, due to a dispute between the CCI and the Bombay Cricket Association, the BCA built the 45000-capacity Wankhede Stadium, less than a mile away from the Brabourne Stadium.
It staged its first Test in the 1974-75 season when the Windies toured India. Clive Lloyd scored an unbeaten 242 and in Pataudi's last hurrah, India lost by 201 runs. The Test also featured a crowd disturbance after a fan who rushed onto the ground to greet Lloyd was treated roughly by the police. India's first victory here was posted against the New Zealand two seasons later. The stadium has been witness to great innings like Gavaskar's 205 against the Windies and Kallicharan's 187 in the same game in the 1978-79 series and all round heroics like Ian Botham's century and thirteen wickets in the Jubilee Test in 1980. which England won by ten wickets. The highest score by an Indian at Wankhede remains Vinod Kambli's 224 against England in 1992-93 in only his third Test. Incidentally Ravi Shastri's six sixes in an over off Baroda's Tilak Raj en route to the fastest double-hundred in first-class cricket was on this ground in 1984-85.
The seaside situation of the Wankhede stadium means that the swing bowlers get a fair amount of assistance during the early part of each day. The pitch has traditionally been full of runs, but it does help the spinners during the last couple of days, and in the last Test played on the ground, against Australia in 2005, the ball spun viciously from early on and this, coupled with low bounce, helped India win in under three days even though almost a whole day was lost to rain. The Wankhede stadium has stands named after famous Mumbai cricketers like Vijay Merchant, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.